Phyllis Marie Regan Fittipaldi passed away September 14, 2021. Born September 28, 1936 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Phyllis was one of six children. She was preceded in death by a father James, a mother Agnes, and brothers James, Dennis, and Richard. She is survived by her older sister Margaret Lee and younger brother Glenn. She is survived by her husband of 64 years Patrick of Warren, NJ, her daughter Lisa Digirolamo (Anthony), her son Joseph (Carolyn), and her granddaughters Claire and Amelia Digirolamo.
As a child, Phyllis spent summers in Sussex, New Jersey. Her parents were educators and used the summers to escape the heat of Jersey City with their children. Phyllis enjoyed helping her parents and siblings on the farm, where they built their own summer home.
Phyllis trained to become a registered nurse at Holy Name School of Nursing, Teaneck, NJ. During her time in nursing school, Phyllis met her future husband. She and Patrick were married in February, 1957 and would go on to have two children, Lisa and Joseph. As a young woman, Phyllis worked as a nurse at Jersey City Medical Center, Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, NJ, and Raritan Valley Hospital in Greenbrook, NJ. During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Phyllis served as Sergeant of the Warren Township Rescue Squad and participated in Civil Defense and Disaster drills.
Phyllis would go on to join the Tri-County Visiting Nurse Association, where she served as a member of the Board of Trustees for ten years, having served for six of those years as the Board President. She was a valiant advocate for both nurses and patients. A supportive and active parent, Phyllis volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, and led her daughter’s troop on many outdoor adventures.
Phyllis had many creative and artistic pursuits. She loved to garden. An avid reader, she accumulated an impressive personal library on art history and travel. She loved overseas travel, especially to Italy, and enjoyed studying the language for many years. Phyllis was a member of the Association of Traditional Rug Hooking Artists (ATHA), a group of over 4,000 fiber artists across the globe. These rug-hooking techniques are expressed in many ways and, as a member, Phyllis created several original design pieces, using hand-dyed new and recycled wool.
Phyllis was also a member of the Historic Society of Early American Decoration (HSEAD). HSEAD perpetuates and expands the unique skills and knowledge of Early American Decoration with educational programs, research, publishing, and exhibitions of the work of practicing guild artists in regional chapters. This international organization researches and records original examples of reverse glass painting, stenciling, gold leafing, pontypool painting, country painting, Victorian flower painting, theorems, pen work, and freehand bronzing. These authentic decorative designs are applied to historically correct items. Examples are painted, stenciled, and gilded furniture, cornice boards, tin trunks, coffee pots, trays, bellows, glass panels in clocks, and looking glasses, walls, and floors. Phyllis and her fellow guild members regularly researched these original decorative art forms from the 1700’s and 1800’s. In addition to several books and videos, members regularly contribute content to The Decorator and other publications.
Phyllis was recently honored by the Somerset County Board of Freeholders and the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission for her thirty years of service as a member of the Commission. She served as a member of the Finance Committee and as Treasurer. She shared her love of art with the next generation by teaching her granddaughters, as well through volunteering on the Teen Arts Committee.
While she loved antiques and colonial American decorative arts, Phyllis also embraced technology wholeheartedly, and had a special appreciation for digital devices and photography in support of her art projects.
She will be remembered for her warmth, compassion and amazing curiosity about a wide range of subjects.
Since 1963, Phyllis was a member of St. Mary’s Stony Hill Roman Catholic Church in Watchung, NJ. Her wake will be held on Sunday September 19, 2021 from 2-6pm at Higgins Home For Funerals, Watchung, NJ. Her funeral mass will be held on Monday September 20, 2021. We will gather at 10am at Higgins Home For Funerals and proceed to St. Mary’s Stony Hill for her mass at 11am. In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to please consider making a donation to Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, or Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, NJ, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.